Thursday, July 04, 2013

The Wait is Lifted...but not over.

We are two days away from the technical due date of our first child and this morning marks the final appointment with our maternity doctor before this child is "supposed" to arrive. Neither of us thought we would be requiring today's appointment, both Amanda and I were confident this baby was going to arrive sometime in the last week, and yet here we are.
I'm quite confident we're not the first couple in history to somehow think this would be the case and I can bet we won't be the last. I have been having many conversations with others who can readily recall the days of waiting in the final, somewhat excruciating (more for her than me) period of pregnancy when you are now past the point of wonder and reaching the point of impatience. As I've been experiencing, speaking of, and thinking on this current state of affairs I've had to wrestle with myself and God in the process and I've come to a conclusion, waiting can fade even before it's over. 
You see, I've spent much of my life (as many of us do I would imagine) waiting for things. When I was in school every day I'd wait for it to be over, when graduation approached I had to wait until it happened, when I finally met the woman I would marry there was much waiting involved. It seems as though we're conditioned somehow to wait. And the worst part is that I suck at it. Even after so much time spent pining over what is to come, waiting (usually impatiently) still comes bearing anxiety and grumpiness. More than that it always bears the question (for me at least): Why God? Why does it have to be this way? What are you trying to do to me? But thanks to some conversations and my current personal reading, I've been pushed into having to wrestle with this notion waiting, patience, and acceptance. 
Some current reading material has challenged my perception of God. Do I view him as some magical genie who either grants my wishes or doesn't? Or is God the one who fulfills my needs, not by accommodating my desires but by being all I desire? Is the presence of God what is of most importance to me, or do I want him to bless me with what I think is necessary?
After a weekend of expecting the baby to arrive because it seemed as though it was going to happen, we've both had to set expectation aside. It was draining me. With every movement or sound that came from my wife I was on the edge of my seat with hospital bags in sight and I quickly became exhausted. Emotionally and physically drained because we weren't sleeping much and cranky because our expectations weren't met. So it is with God sometimes. I become exhausted and drained because I'm on the edge of my seat expecting and when that is not met, I am let down. 
Does this mean God has somehow let me down? Does it mean that my yet to be born child has let me down? I don't think so. I think I'm letting myself down because I'm creating a situation that breeds disappointment. If my child needs to met my expectations, I will be let down and they will be hurt by me. If God needs to meet my expectations, I will be let down because that's not who God is. 
However, if the mere presence of God is what I desire most, then I cannot be let down because when I know his presence in a moment, I'm satisfied. If my child is free to be who they are and all I want is to be with them, I will not be let down because presence is enough. 
So with this in mind, the wait is lifted. Waiting for something doesn't let me down, it makes me excited. Waiting for God is becomes exciting. Waiting for this child becomes exciting, and when they finally do arrive I will get to learn who they are. When God graces me with the experience of his presence, I can learn who he is. 
So the wait has been lifted for now. But it's certainly not over, though I can look at it from a perspective that allows me to sleep at night and doesn't produce disappointment but joy. For now I'll enjoy the thought of what it will be like to hold my child, and when that time comes I can be blown away by how much better it is than I could have ever imagined. And I'll enjoy the thought of meeting with God and be dumbfounded by just how my thoughts pale in comparison to the real experience. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Familiar Friends

Have you ever found yourself thinking differently than most on a subject and wondered if anyone else may has some of the same questions as you but everyone's just intimidated or frightened of what might happen?
What about one of those moments when you decide to just come right out and say what you're actually thinking afraid of the consequence and you receive a surprising yet agreeing smile. Almost as though the other person was just waiting for someone else to take that plunge first.
There are many pieces of life which call for attention to personal growth because for some reason I feel as though I need to have reached a certain point of maturity before such things occur. As much as this may spiral into a whirlpool of self-defeat (the roots of which meander much deeper than I'd care to admit), it's a learned behavior from which I find myself seeking redemption. Nonetheless I wrestle with the truth of God's unending, often unrequited, but most certainly undeserved love for me in the midst of the struggle.
Alas, I meandered (not unlike the aforementioned roots) away from my point. A new pastor attempting to blaze a trail through an open field of seemingly countless choices. A new child forming in the womb of my too beautiful gift of a wife. A new age of determined tearing and mending of spiritual, physical, and emotional muscle after years of neglect and ruin. This is the landscape of life as we each sit in our respective places, me writing down the uneven nature of my thoughts, and you attempting to navigate this tangled web weaved for you.
Newness abounds, anticipation lurks, that ever elusive reality of contentment just beyond one's reach somehow comes closer. In world of never good enough I fear that this might just be the good enough I've longed for and I'm terrified. After years of feeling as though I can't quite keep up, or I need to do something else to win the affection of those around me, I am challenged to consider the truth of God's love without attached strings. Who am I trying to please anyway? Idols take on all forms, even the prospect of service can become such and it's something I must be ever aware of.
It seems as though the winds of change are blowing and I'm perplexed by the uncontrollable nature of the wind as it tosses the trees about outside my office window. In the same way I am perplexed by the uncontrollable nature of life and the change that comes with it. It is interesting to me that we can attempt to harness the power of the wind but we can never control it. It's an illusion that we "control" it, in fact it's an illusion that we control anything. We decide that we're in control of something so that we can remain comfortable, we can feel less threatened by that which is unknown.
So it is with this newness in front of me, I'm discovering the less I hold tightly to the things around me, the more freedom there is to just be. A good friend and coworker pinpointed something that scares me substantially, leading out of character and not competency. As mentioned already, I've only ever found value in myself if I can perform or produce something, but what if I can't? Am I inherently unlovable? What if who I am will leave a much more lasting impression on those around me than what I can do? What if my contribution to society rests more in understanding how God sees me and reflecting that to others? What if I can do nothing other than be who it is I've not wanted to admit to being?
Mike Yaconelli, a hero of mine these days, challenges my perceptions quite consistently with his own from his writing. He's dead now, unfortunately for us, but before he went home he left some thoughts in the form of a book called Dangerous Wonder which reflects on child-like faith that should maybe stay child-like in some very significant ways. Here's what he proposes:
Eugene Peterson pointed out once that most of us spend our live "impersonating ourselves." Children are who they are. It doesn't take long before we have convinced them that they are what they wear, or what they do, or what they have, or what they look like. But, if our children are lucky, we convince them early on to resist caricature or illusion. Once we decide, no matter how early in our lives, to quit listening to the way we are made, we begin to lose our God hearing...The moment we deny God's fingerprint on our soul, the instant we stop listening to our uniqueness, our God hearing starts to deteriorate...Jeremiah discovered that to deny the way he was made was to deny "his word," God's voice, God's whispering presence in his life. Jeremiah wrestled all his life with the truth that God's calling is God calling. (pp. 95-96). 
Yaconelli drew from Jeremiah 20, where Jeremiah had been beaten by some angry people for telling them what they didn't want to hear, ultimately the truth of God. He was a bit bothered by the outcome of God calling on him, but he knew he had no other way. Sometimes I can see where he's coming from. For me, it's not because I'm weary of being beaten by people, it's more a matter of recognizing the very disconcerting reality that change and growth hurt, but the pain produces something good. It's like Paul said in Romans 5, suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. To develop character, I need to hurt. To hurt is uncomfortable, and to be uncomfortable is outside of everything our culture strives for. And ultimately, I need to be ok with people being uncomfortable with me to help them grow as well.
I can imagine some kind of dream of who I'd like to be, I want to make sure that will look more like Jesus than anything else and that's going to require a lot of suffering to get there. It's like training for and running an endurance run (for me it's half marathon distance). You know that in order to go further you need to push beyond the threshold of what your body is currently comfortable with, that's the only way to grow. Before muscles can grow they need to be torn. I know it's a reality of physical life, but what I often forget is how it is very real for the spiritual as well. Much newness is here and on the horizon, some muscles need to be torn yet before they can rebuild and get stronger. Character building hurts, but I'm discovering just how much God loves to restore that which has been torn.
So maybe it's ok to be the one who steps out on a limb to see how far I can go before it breaks. Maybe part of my hearing God calling is to be willing to be uncomfortable and then bring others with me. Maybe I need to be the first to break the silence when I think differently on something. Not for the sake of disturbing but for the sake of providing space for God to produce perseverance, character, and hope.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

What a difference a year makes

On the ferry, heading to the mainland (I must be an islander now) for a few weeks of school and considering the last time I was doing this about a year ago.
It had literally been just a couple of days after we had loaded our condo into a trailer in Calgary and unloaded it into Amanda's parents garage. We were not into our place in Victoria yet, and Amanda had just accepted a job for the fall. I had nothing but my work computer and a whole lot of questions because I knew it wouldn't be long before that laptop was surrendered and I had no new "work computer" to assume afterward. Plus the prospect of a new degree was somewhat daunting. A lot of questions...
We moved ourselves into a little dorm room for a month while I discovered what it's like to lose my mind and a few short weeks later we were moving into what is now home. Little did I know, however, this new "home" would feel more like prison over the coming months.
This time is different. A year later I am alone because Amanda can stay at home instead of joining her nomadic husband for the fury of courses this month. Two new jobs on the horizon that would not have been imagined the year previous. 5 courses have successfully been completed and the job doesn't begin for another 6 weeks. It seems that this is the time of answers after a long year of many questions.
Though circumstance is rather different now there is one constant. God knew it. He knows it. The only changing factor is that now I can rest in that fact believing it to be true. A year ago I wasn't so sure because my trust was in my own ability. This year I can rest because I know I don't have what it takes but I will see success here regardless of my ability because God is faithful.
The Israelites spent 40 years in the desert coming out of Egypt, thankfully for me it's only been 1. Hopefully I will heed the lessons learned from such an experience and walk humbly with hands held open for whatever He may want to place in them.

Friday, June 01, 2012

timing is everything

I feel like I've been on hiatus in recent weeks, perhaps even months. I wonder if this is what television actors experience when their shows break for the summer...possibly, but likely with more money involved.
Sidenote: Why do I always think about money?
Hiatus, a gap or interruption in space/time, a break. Is it possible for a break to not feel like one? That is, can you experience a "hiatus" while being worked on? I think so and I think that is exactly what this past year has been about. While the so called break hasn't lasted that long and it hasn't been much of a "break" indeed, there is a sense of renewal that comes from recollection on the journeys of these last 12, perhaps even more, months.  This time a year ago we were in Calgary preparing to load up a trailer with our belongings and head west to this coastal region. Still three months left on my "contract" with Ambrose, a month of hectic schooling, and a whole lot of uncertainty to come, I was hopeful for what was ahead.
Of course we all know that hindsight offers much more perspective than foresight and had I known what was to come I may have attempted to approach things differently. But, if hindsight has anything else to offer then in this case it certainly screams at me that timing is everything. Interesting how God tends to manoeuvre in such ways, isn't it? Here I am, 11 months after moving, 10 months after the first summer session of school (with the next at my doorstep), 9 months after finishing work, and perhaps 5 months after I had given up hope (don't worry, hope is not lost). Timing is everything.
Without God's timing and by going my way, I may well have landed a job that was consistent with my interests at the time, it may have even paid well and continued the pursuit of comfort and stability. It may have been the case that I found a niche in the area I have pursued without any substantial reasoning and done quite well. This is all subjective and circumstantial of course because it has not happened this way, but bear with me, timing is everything.
Had everything gone my way from the start, we may have been further along with certain goals and aspirations BUT we would have missed many lessons in humility. Faith would have remained circumstantial, relationship would have been superficial, call would have been suppressed, God would have sat on the mantel, I would have suffered and by proxy so would my wife undeservedly. Had I been able to control the outcome, I would have seen to it (albeit unintentionally) that life would become my masterpiece, fixing the deck to be stacked in my favour with little interest in the things that truly matter. Pursuit had consumed me. That is to say, my concern became more for comfort and well-being than for Gospel and Truth. Not that the desires I had were inherently bad, it was mainly to provide for potential family, look after my wife and see that she is able to enjoy life, be able to contribute and live up to what I had projected to be my responsibility as a man and husband. These desires were not bad or wrong in themselves, but without focus on life in Christ, misaligned. Timing is everything.
Only now am I able to look back at the progression of the last year and a half to see how God has been pulling me back into His alignment. 12 months ago I would not have considered a church ministry position for vocation again. When asked by many I would answer: "I'm not against it, though it would have to be the right circumstance". All the while I would be thinking: "There is no possible circumstance that would take me down that road." Funny how wrong we can be sometimes in our responses to things we think we control, even if only as an illusion.
Without God's timing and His hand in all of this I wouldn't have come across a job posting for a pastoral position that would be exactly what I had long desired to see in the church. I wouldn't have sent my resume because I had felt some strange draw to do so. I wouldn't have willingly sat down to explore the questionnaire requested by the search committee and struggled through my experience and position on issues. I would not have entered an interview with said committee and been completely vulnerable as one a little sheepish to enter pastoral ministry again, but earnestly seeking God's direction. I wouldn't have been able to endure the preparatory process that to some seems excruciatingly long but to me just seems right. I wouldn't have found favour with the board of elders or been so comfortable in that space. And without God's timing I wouldn't be sitting here now eagerly anticipating the next stage in the process, to meet the rest of the congregation and leaders and speak my heart and what I believe to be God's heart into the position for which I am applying.
You see, timing is everything, especially when we have become distracted by the concerns of our culture to succeed in our own way. Ironic how God will bring us full circle, however, to provide something that is exactly what we were searching for in the first place, only after bringing us back in alignment with Him instead of perpendicular to Him. It is not all finished yet, there is still process. But I walk ahead looking up, waaaaaay up (Friendly Giant anyone?), expecting only that God will prevail in this situation and in our lives where He rightly belongs. With humility accepting the direction He is taking us and with anticipation that this pastoral position will hopefully work out. Not taking hold of it as my own, but accepting the call and walking in grace and humility to serve in such a way.
There is definitely a story to be told out of all of this and you are only getting a brief glimpse into the goodness that God has been orchestrating. This weekend I spoke at our current church on Christ as Saviour, indeed it is a personal story but much greater than that. Not only does he save us from eternity in absence but he saves us from our own paths of destruction here and now, if we are willing to let him. Timing is everything, don't think for a moment that you control it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Tale of Two Women (Mark 12:41-44 & 14:1-10)

Here's the manuscript from my sermon this past Sunday. It's not the best thing to have been put together, but I figure it's important to lay it out there anyway, flawed as it is. I guess it's a life style choice, ever thought of trying it?

I’ve been reading a book this past week, call A Resilient Life, by a man named Gordon MacDonald. He has an interesting story of his own, but there was something that struck me as I was thinking about Lent, about Jesus’ sacrifice, about our response and what kind of life I want to live as a result. Here’s an excerpt from this book, he’s recalling when he was in a private boy’s school as a teenager and seeking to be on the track team:
As best as I can recall his words after all these years, he said, “Gordie, I’ve been watching you carefully. I think you have the potential to be an excellent runner. You have a runner’s body and a natural stride. And you are fast. But you have much to learn. If you are to compete for Stony Brook, you’re going to have to work hard. You’ll have to learn to discipline yourself, and it will mean that you have to trust me and follow my instructions. Every day you will have to come to this track and complete the workouts that will be listed on this board. Now, Gordie…don’t commit to this if you are not willing to give it everything you have.” And then he posed the question, “Gordie, are you willing to pay the price it takes to become a Stony Brook trackman?”
…That infamous day, the coach was not asking for an immediate answer. Instead he said, “I want you to leave the track and think about what I’ve said. And when you decide what you want to do, come back and let me know.”
Last week Cam examined Jesus entry into Jerusalem, as King. These are moments that are rich in historical significance in the gospels, and just like lent, this is a time that can be pivotal in how our hearts and minds are shaped in discovering Christ. I find it interesting the specific parables and stories that remain from the time of Jesus’ entering Jerusalem and his death and resurrection. This is not a significant period of time chronologically, but if you consider that it’s really only a few days between his entrance into Jerusalem and his death on the cross, there’s a lot that takes place and significantly a lot that Jesus makes sure to point out and use as teachable moments for his disciples.
There are two short stories of women (somewhat in honor of International Women’s Day) that grab me as I read these final chapters of Mark. What is it that Jesus sees as teachable moments for his disciples? Why does it happen now? What can we learn from these encounters? Hopefully as we look at these women in light of lent and the season of remembering Jesus coming sacrifice not only will the actions of these women and Jesus’ words regarding them, but also Gordon MacDonald’s story of considering joining the track team will begin to paint a clearer picture.
Let’s look at the two women in Mark, the first one in 12:41-44:
 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Okay, nothing surprising there. Jesus notices the poor widow giving and points out her sacrifice to the disciples. Now let’s look at another short little story of a woman and Jesus’ words regarding it:

 1 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
 3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[
a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
   6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Notice any similarities in the women of these stories? Notice any similarities in Jesus’ response to his disciples?
Make no mistake, these are definitely separate stories. They are not related aside from some of the same characters and each holds its own significance in Jewish culture and in the historicity of events. However, there are some curious similarities that I don’t think we can ignore as they not only set an example for us but also provide a foreshadowing of what is to come.
There are three observations from these two events that can be paralleled for us in reflection during this time of Lent.
1)      These women are unassuming.
In each of the accounts, while different, the women are painted as unassuming. They are not of high stature and they do not have any expectations, they simply do what they see as necessary and Jesus praises their efforts.
The poor widow is juxtaposed to a bunch of loud and self-righteous rich people, who do things to gain attention, seek the approval of those around them, and welcome the perks of being public religious figures and rich people that draw praise from the people. These people give large amounts and make it known while the poor woman is also seemingly aware of her status and her ability to give and does so without really drawing attention. After all, she is only giving a few cents, right?
The second woman (known as Mary from similar accounts in Matthew and John), also unassuming just goes ahead and does what she sees as best in the situation. She grabs the most expensive gift that she can find and heads straight to Jesus, not considering or perhaps just not caring what kind of response she may receive. Her only intention is to serve Jesus by anointing him with this expensive perfume, she sees the value in doing so and does it. Not unlike the poor widow seeing the value in her gift and does so.
Jesus’ response regarding both of these women is that she has done all she can.  That’s what I want his response to be to me, “he’s done all he can”, given everything I have to give. This isn’t to live life exhausted, it’s a life that is unassuming, not seeking gain but living generously for the sake of the Kingdom of God, not unlike the two women we see in this stories.
2)      These women are self-denying.
In each instance Jesus points out the value of the woman’s actions. The poor widow is surrounded by those who are able to give immensely more than she could ever dream, but as Jesus makes sure to show the disciples, she has given absolutely everything she has that day. The Temple treasury was the place where a number of different baskets were placed for people to give their non-animal sacrifices for a variety of purposes. This was an act of complete self-denial on the part of the woman, again juxtaposed to the self-gratifying acts of the rich who were giving large amounts of money with little value to them. In contrast the woman has given everything. She is in a sense pouring herself out, disregarding her needs in service through giving money.
The second woman, we can see a more literal act of pouring out, though it does hold some similar symbolism. She literally pours the expensive perfume over Jesus, normally reserved for a burial ritual after a person has died. In this moment she is literally pouring out her love for Jesus and he recognizes this. When she is accosted by the other people there Jesus defends her actions, she has done everything she could. In a sense she has given more than the others, who while their desire to help the poor is noble, it was clearly not what the best use of the perfume at that moment.
This second story has a number of very rich things to draw from it (and perhaps some slightly controversial), but the point for today is that she had given the best of what she had to honor Christ, she is in a sense pouring herself out for Christ. The author also tells the story of Judas doing the precise opposite act here in pure selfishness, selling out Jesus for a pocket full of coin. So here I ask myself, which would I rather be like?
3)      These events are a foreshadowing and an example.
Finally, these two events serve as a foreshadowing of things to come. The second story from Mark 14 is much more clearly portrayed as such with imagery like the pouring out of the perfume, a burial ritual, Jesus’ acknowledgement of his coming betrayal and death. However, the poor widow of Mark 12 does hold similar significance of giving up everything for the sake of something greater, a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice to come.
I’m quite confident that there was no mistake in the placement of these stories in Mark. Jesus has come into Jerusalem as a King, he has been recognized by the masses as the Messiah and we are now seeing the contrasting picture of what it means to be a “suffering servant” on our level. Jesus has his own level of suffering to come, these two women have given just a small glimpse of what is coming in pouring out of themselves just like Jesus will be poured out as the true suffering servant who will take on the sins of the world in such an unassuming manner, denying himself to be the sin offering.
So of course what does this mean for us? What these two woman have portrayed can fit into our world today as examples of ways that we can pour ourselves out, but perhaps there are other ways. Paul says it well in Philippians 2:3-18:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 6 Who, being in very nature[
a] God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
   by taking the very nature[
b] of a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself
   by becoming obedient to death—
      even death on a cross!
 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
   and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father.
 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
What does it look like for you to pour yourself out? For the widow it was giving all the money she had. For the woman in Mark 14 it was offering herself as a servant to anoint Jesus. For Jesus it was a story of betrayal and horrific death. For Paul, being poured out like a drink offering. The women we’ve taken a look at today were indeed small glimpses of what Jesus would be doing on a much larger scale in only a few days. Jesus then lived out his sacrifice, a suffering servant for the sake of the world. Paul’s life was an example as he followed Christ’s example. We have pictures of what it might mean for us to truly serve Christ by serving others, selflessly handing ourselves over in ways that will mean sacrifice, but will work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
All of this shows that we, as those who are looking to follow Christ in everything we do, will continually pour ourselves out, looking to the interest of others, giving up of ourselves for a greater purpose. These women were blessed by Jesus in what they did, he took notice of them and declared what they did as good. This is not a magic formula to get good things, it’s not a way to try and gain salvation/accolade/wealth through selfless action, it is as Paul put it, identifying with Christ.
Gordon MacDonald writes these words after his recounting that story I read before:
A day later I told Marvin Goldberg that I would trust him and that I would be willing to pay the price. The day after that, my name appeared for the first time on…the white bulletin board. Eight months later, I wore my first white cardigan sweater with a large S.
Gordon’s coach wanted him to consider the weight of what was being asked of him. It wasn’t simply a small price that would be paid, not just a little would be required, he was requiring every ounce of energy and time in preparation for competition. This is the same kind of pouring out that the women experienced in the presence of Jesus, giving everything they had. For one it was a couple coins, for another it was her undivided attention and some expensive perfume, for Gordon on the track team it was countless hours spent on the track in training. For you it will likely be different, at different times. Jesus poured himself out completely, to the point of death, but even before that his life reflected (one could argue the same of the women in these stories) sacrifice, commitment, dedication, discipline. Giving whatever you have, not money necessarily, it could be something like time or perhaps a gift.
Dedication, hard work, emptying of self to serve those around you. The day will come when this life is finished for you, what kind of life will you have to look back on. Will we have shined like stars amongst a warped generation through selfless living and sacrificial giving? Or will we have a “pocket full of change” at the cost of truly identifying with Christ?
Paul’s coined a phrase in recent weeks, “all life altering love requires substitutionary sacrifice”. Christ’s sacrifice is just that, how will it reflect in your life?